By all accounts, Donna Lou Young and Henry Rayhons were happily married.
But the former Iowa lawmaker is now awaiting trial in a felony spouse-abuse case. He is accused of having sex with his wife in a nursing home when she was allegedly incapable of consent because of her dementia, Bloomberg reports in a lengthy article.
The case against Rayhons was initiated by his wife’s daughters from a previous marriage and staff at the nursing home at which they had urged him to place his wife. Rayhons, who says he did nothing wrong, visited his wife there frequently. She died in August at age 78.
It is not clear that the state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, can even show that the couple had sex on the day in question, in May of this year, according to the Bloomberg article.
Meanwhile, observers with expertise in elder law issues and nursing home administration told the news agency they considered the medical assessment of Donna Lou Young’s ability to consent to sex inadequate. She could be unable to balance a checkbook, one pointed out, but eager to have sex with her husband, just as she would be able to determine when she was hungry and ready for a meal.
“Any partner in a marriage has the right to say no,” said professor Katherine Pearson of Penn State Dickinson School of Law. “What we haven’t completely understood is, as in this case, at what point in dementia do you lose the right to say yes?”
(Marc Miller) Human Rights Watch recently reported that the depressing old story that African Americans are disproportionately drug defendants remains true. (News story here.) One reason may be political; drug search warrants of wealthier, whiter neighborhoods have a higher success rate (see Lawrence Benner, Racial Disparity in Narcotics Search Warrants, 6 Journal of Gender, Race and Justice 193 (2002)) suggesting that the standards are higher to search there. The police understandably avoid making mistakes with people having the power to retaliate: “If you search the King, the King must be holding.”
There are, I am willing to bet, active drug networks at Andover and Spence, at Williams and Harvard, but generally, they are let alone unless they go out of their way to attract police attention. That’s why the recent DEA drug investigation and raid at San Diego State University is so interesting.
Leaving affluent kids alone is, I think, essential to the political stability of the War on Drugs. Why don’t headmasters and deans at elite schools beg for the services of undercover narcotics investigators, who could develop solid cases against young dealers for multiple felonies and then pack them off to state prison for double-digit terms (forfeiting their trust funds in the process, of course)? Would that not delight parents and fellow students would then be protected from these criminals? My bet is that parents and students would instead say that police have better things to do than arrest good young people for conduct that millions have engaged in, conduct which, at least as to these kids from fine families, warrants rehabilitation and treatment, not punishment.
This approach was abandoned at SDSU, where 75 students were arrested and charged with serious crimes. (NPR story here). So we are given a perfect conflict: Strong cases based on months of investigation of sitting ducks with a complete lack of basic drug dealer professionalism, serious charges that could send these kids to state prison, and affluent defendants whose parents (and I can hear the popping of champagne corks even here in Tucson) are about to confer a substantial windfall (75 defendants!) on the best criminal defense attorneys.